Last night I found myself in a room bursting with light.
The first thing I saw were pairs of blue hands matching even busier feet.
People were dressed in thin fluro fabric, with what looked like bathing caps on. And they moved like neon fish. Darting, like they were allergic to inertia.
Then a chunky, vile taste reappears in my mouth, and I remember I’m not at a bad college costume party. And that isn’t salsa.
I was in hospital.
It was Sunday night, and I was finally in a state to take in where I was. It was probably the most amount of people I had come into contact with for the past 2/3 months.
Yellow chords like streamers fed into serious looking ipad machines. Like the kind Elon Muck would invent, with matching feelings and eating abilities.
Loud red switches decorate the walls along with these foreign codes like EDOM and AOM 555. Behind someone’s head I spotted a RESUS StARS OF THE WEEK board.
I wanted to make a joke like, “ you have a letter wrong. It should be JESUS’ STARS OF THE WEEK- Can someone please give me an AMEN UP IN THIS BITCh,” suddenly possessed by that famous American pastor that lives on the Christian channel. But I doubted they would have laughed, especially with the sound of some old man choking every 10 seconds coming from behind me. And not to mention, I couldn’t speak- I had thrown up too much.
But when you really think about it, doctors and nurses were a bit like the hands of God/Allah/Buddha/Mohammad, all wrapped into one. The ones who appear as you drift between states.
They fix people in ways chef’s prepare, marinate and cook food before sending them out into the world.
I wondered if they were this skilled and intuitive with other people, non-bleeding. But knowing their crazy schedules, I doubt there would be time. I think a full nights rest was number one on the agenda, just so they could do it all again the next day.
Peering around me, I couldn’t help but wonder if the doctors and nurses thought it was all worth it.
To be the most intelligent, skilled and self-less person in the room, at the cost of being less than, when you leave it to go home.
To be a father who wasn’t there, to have a partner who eats dinner alone; having to move around from hospital to hospital, place to place without a say. Despite being the most intelligent person in the room, the most skilled, selfless. Traumatised. Sleep-deprived. And even perhaps lonely, at times.
It must feel like your seeing too much and not living enough. Stuck in this weird in-between world that exists inside hospitals filled with people saving the living, while not actually living themselves.
Or atleast, that’s what Adam Kay—- described as his experience in his book- This Is Going To Hurt. Adventures of a Junior doctor.
I read it earlier this year and it left me a little stunned at how very wrong public perception is surrounding doctors. How the money comes in later or for those that don’t specialise or go into private hospitals, not at all.
The ceilings had this mosaics like efficiency to them, with every square inch accounted for. Rectangles of sound-proofing and then a light over and over again. With a sprinkler and smoke alarm thrown in for some variation.
I hadn’t been to this hospital before but I had passed it countless times on the way to ballet. It was grand and beautiful from the outside, like a British embassy. Complete with large carved stone and what seems like high ceilings inside. A flurry of well-kept trees waved at cars passing by, near the entrance.
This hospital was not only heritage listed but was lucky enough to sit on the wealthy fringe of Sydney University. Meaning, it inherited (by association) it’s fat, rich, cousin’s good looks and Harry Potter-esk charm.
When we made it inside, of course it was very different. To my surprise, watery blues painted the walls, with not one drop of stark white in sight.
Allen was my doctor. He had a gold band on his left hand and the smallest of earring in his right ear. He also came with a serious face.
” So you didn’t hit your head, is what your telling me?”
“No. I just fainted, vomited and couldn’t get up.”
” Right. After… one shot? No drugs?” He asked in the same monotone yet quick, voice he began with.
“ No drugs. Sorry it isn’t more juicy.”
He laughed at this, and I felt a bit better.
“I’m just thinking,” he said.
I had a feeling he went though most days without laughing or smiling. I mean, with masks on, you didn’t really need to anymore. No one would know.
“ That’s not true,” a conversation with my friend Nic came back to me from earlier in the week.
“ I prefer mask smiles as they are so much harder to earn. And it makes people have smiley eyes,” she laughed.
“Idk…” I said, feeling a little down.
“I miss people.”
“ Yeah, no I get you. I think everyone’s feeling a little blue.”
“Like yesterday right, I went on a run and grabbed a coffee at my favourite cafe, and ended up not even drinking it! “
“ What- why?” Nic asked.
“ I didn’t feel like coffee; however I still carried it around like a prop, all the way to Office-works before Loui jumped on me and the whole cup exploded. But, I think I just wanted the habit back. To go there and see the barista’s familiar face, and chat like nothing’s wrong.
“To taste what normal feels like. It’s understandable. And expensive….”
But what wasn’t understandable was why even with the nurses giving me blanket after blanket, while wearing flannel pj’s, a outdoors jumper and ugg boots, I felt like I was in an ice bath. However I knew when the blood tests were done, I could leave, with or without their consent. Which meant blankets, shower. Things would be fine, I just had to wait.
Tonight started when my flatmate and I began watching The Kissing Booth 3. I made some noodles that night for dinner that had been exposed for months, but they were dry so I thought they must be fine. And besides, I didn’t have any others…
Tossing them into the pot, I didn’t think much of it until vomit was streaming out of my mouth as my forehead was stuck to the tiled floor. And I couldn’t move. The world was too hot and blurry, and my stomach was shooting with pain.
Tonight was all a little surreal. And then I had a seizure, and that was like riding a roller-coaster.
The nurse with blue turquoise hair was taking my bloods, as I started throwing up again. I then asked for some water as I couldn’t breathe, only I didn’t say that. I just said I needed water in between the vomit closing up in my throat.
Next, I wasn’t chocking or cold. I was watching Love Island up-close, eyes pressed to the TV as it fast-forwarded at an extremely pace before I realised it was so extreme it shook me. I was shaking.
And then I sat up, gasping, as 5 doctors all stared at me like I was possessed.
“Do you know what just happened?” One asked.
I shook my head.
“It was quite scary there for a minute,” the turquoise-haired nurse said, handing me a cup of water.
Allen then emerged, as I told him I wasn’t having fun, and I felt it was time to leave.
“I think you should stay,” he said. “With the seizure happening and just in case your abdominal pain is a blood-clot from the vaccine.”
“I just need to go home.” I repeated to him. “ I’m so cold. “
I touched his hand to show him.
“I’ve felt colder.” Allen said.
“ Oh,” was all I could say, feeling a bit stupid.
“So we can’t keep you against your will, but if you can wait another half hour for bloods, we’ll give you some fluids and something for your stomach in the mean time. Okay?”
And Allen was almost right. I was discharged in an hour and a half with all my tests coming back fine.
Upon leaving, another doctor I hadn’t met before discharged me. I wish I got to thank Allen, but I guess his busy feet and serious face were needed elsewhere.
The fluid meant I could stand now and I was feeling like I needed a shower and then bed.
Only when I got home, I found myself on the floor again, only this time I made it to the kitchen. Vomit drenched my hair as I felt dizzy, and couldn’t get up. Although this time I wasn’t cold, I was burning hot.
Around 2am we called and then cancelled the ambulance. The idea of going back to being freezing and getting stabbed with an unsuspecting needle-shank (when I wasn’t ready) was the last thing I wanted to do on a Monday morning. I also could stand, so we thought it wasn’t as serious.
The final obstacle of the night seemed to be trying to sleep, which wasn’t working on account I wasn’t freezing but now extremely hot. My nauseousness seemed to get upset by this, as I started feeling more faint. I remember reading somewhere that when you sleep naked your body self regulates, so I tugged off every layer I had on. And like a miracle, my dizziness faded, and I fell asleep.
Over the following days, I managed to full butterfly myself out of the cocoon that were my sheets and finally took my first run again a week later.
The only thing that did trouble me about the prior week’s events was that during my brush with the other side, I didn’t mingle with anyone cool. Not Marilyn Monroe, Princess Dianna, God, Maya Angelou or even Dumbledore.
I could understand that everyone worth seeing above was all booked up, however I do want to know Hilter or even Jeffrey Epstein’s excuse. I’m pretty sure both would be busting for a chat since they have been blacklisted by every psychic for the past hundred years…but I digress.
Maybe I didn’t get to see anyone worth mentioning, but maybe I did see a version of God. Wearing a serious face, turquoise hair and a bathing cap.